International Herald Tribune Editorial - Probing Pat Tillman's death
Copyright by The International Herald Tribune
Published: August 8, 2007
Now that the U.S. Army has completed its seventh inquiry into the death of Corporal Pat Tillman and military leaders have testified in Congress, we still don't know who concocted a phony story about how Tillman died and whether the White House knew it was happening. Congress needs to clarify whether this affair reflects incompetence or a conspiracy to exploit a soldier's death.
Tillman, who gave up a pro football contract to volunteer as a U.S. Army Ranger, was killed in Afghanistan in April 2004 while trying to assist another Ranger unit. Almost immediately, soldiers in the field recognized that he had been hit by fire from fellow Rangers. Yet witness reports were rewritten to make it seem like he had been felled by the enemy. That became the basis for expediting a posthumous Silver Star. Even after the truth was recognized, the army stuck by its award on the theory that Tillman acted heroically before he was killed.
The misrepresentations might well have been the army's sole doing. Yet the White House could ease doubts by granting the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee full access to key personnel and documents.
The committee has already learned that, immediately after Tillman's death, at least 97 White House officials exchanged hundreds of e-mails about how the White House should respond. Have embarrassing e-mails been withheld from congressional scrutiny? The committee needs to find out.